On January 17, 1978, two inmates incarcerated at Chillicothe Correctional Institute (CCI) in Chillicothe, Ohio filed a lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, alleging violations of their ...
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On January 17, 1978, two inmates incarcerated at Chillicothe Correctional Institute (CCI) in Chillicothe, Ohio filed a lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, alleging violations of their First Amendment rights following denial of their request to receive "Hustler" magazine. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief alleging that the application of prison's publications policy violated their First Amendment rights, and injunctive relief to allow them to receive the publication.
After prison officials denied the inmates' initial requests to receive "Hustler" magazine, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction adopted an administrative regulation establishing criteria for determining whether to ban printed material from Ohio's prisons and also set forth procedures for prisoners to follow to appeal such a ban. Following the adoption of this regulation, the plaintiffs again requested and were denied permission to receive "Hustler" magazine. Prison authorities apparently failed to apply the criteria and procedures set forth in the regulation.
The District Court (Judge unknown) ruled on April 2, 1981, that plaintiffs' rights had been violated but it did not grant the injunction requested by plaintiffs. The Court determined that the prison did not provide notice, an opportunity to be heard and an ultimate determination by a disinterested decision-maker. The District Court ordered the prison to implement the procedural and substantive safeguards that had established by the courts and by the state's administrative regulation. It turns out that neither of the inmate plaintiffs was still incarcerated at the time of the decision. One had died and the other had been released.
The remainder of the litigation challenged the award of attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs on grounds that because they were not incarcerated at the time of the order, they were not "prevailing parties" entitled to fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
On June 3, 1981, the District Court awarded attorneys' fees and expenses to plaintiffs, which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in an unwritten opinion. Stewart v. Rhodes, 703 F.2d 566 (6th Cir. 1982). On May 31, 1983, however, the United States Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case to us for further consideration in light of Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424 (1983), which established criteria for determining a prevailing party. Stewart v. Rhodes, 461 U.S. 952 (1983). On remand, the District Court, on July 25, 1986, again determined that the plaintiff was a prevailing party and entitled to attorneys' fees. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Stewart v. Rhodes, 845 F.2d 327, 1988 WL 38966 (6th Cir.(Ohio) April 27, 1988). On Oct. 17, 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, holding that as the case was not brought as a class action and since one of the two inmates had died and the other had been released from prison prior to the issuance of the District Court order, neither was a prevailing party entitled to an award of attorney fees. Rhodes v. Stewart, 488 U.S. 1 (1988) Justices Marshall and Blackmun filed dissenting opinionsDenise Lieberman - 11/18/2006